With apologies to my children and my late father, I don’t like the Red Sox. It’s in my DNA. I feel that I should admit that right up front just so you know where I stand.
In 1987 and 1988 the team I root for—the Yankees—won 54% of their games but finished completely out of contention in fourth and fifth place—a tribute to the caliber of teams in the eighties and further proof of the watered-down playoff system that will probably even find a spot for the 2015 Yankees.
The ’87 and ’88 Yankees were not going to play in the World Series—they weren’t very good, just as the Red Sox aren’t very good this year.
But during those two seasons the Yankees’ radio play-by-play was handled by the duo of Hank Greenwald and Tommy Hutton—unknown quantities in New York. (They replaced Phil Rizzuto.) Greenwald and Hutton were terrifically entertaining. They broadcast the games with accuracy and enthusiasm, but never took themselves or the sport that seriously. Baseball was a game and they knew it. But at the end of the 1988 season, they were released—apparently they lacked the dignity to broadcast for the monolith that is the Yankees. The job was given to John Sterling—just thought you should know.
When I read recently about the release of the Red Sox’s Don Orsillo, I thought of Hutton and Greenwald and how the game score was always less important than their take on the action or their banter during baseball’s dead spots, of which there are many. Diehard Yankee fan that I am, occasionally I’ll take a look at NESN and watch some of a Sox game. I may not be rooting for them, and the game may have no significance in the standings, but I’ll stay anyway just to hear Orsillo and Remy. They just get it right. I’m amazed that the Sox ownership doesn’t realize that when the team is going nowhere, the fans need some other reason to watch and that the current broadcasting team provides that. After all, who hasn’t watched a meaningless Dodgers game on MLB Network just to hear Vin Scully?
Sox co-owner Tom Werner was quoted as saying the broadcast booth needed to be re-energized, then backed off and said elevated or improved. But seriously, do the Red Sox need more gravitas in the booth or someone who can play left field?
Incidentally, Hank Greenwald finished his career with the San Francisco Giants after which he performed other Bay Area broadcasting assignments; Tommy Hutton has been the color analyst for the Miami Marlins since 1997. Don Orsillo will land on his feet too, and if he’s not announcing baseball next season, it will be because he doesn’t want to.